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0336. A few hours in Spain (Mor 169--REVISIT)

Ceuta Travel Blog

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I have a couple of fond memories of Ceuta.  Back in 1996 while studying/working in Spain I went on an overnight visit to Ceuta with a couple of friends.  It was then I had my first glass of real mint tea—with the leaves in the glass and started to feel the enchantment of North African culture... A few weeks after that I moved to Morocco... permanently...

Just a few weeks ago, I took my wife on a little North/Morocco/Spain/Portugal trip and we wandered around Ceuta a good bit.  We had a good time and I got a good feel of the city, but obviously since I didn’t have my guitar with me, the visit was incomplete.

So now I’m back. 

One way that Ceuta is clearly distinct from Melilla is the border.

  While Melilla has a double 20 foot fence that would put the Wall of Berlin to shame—Ceuta’s fence could be crossed by a 4 year old.  Obviously there’s no obsession here with keeping illegal immigrants out—or tightly controlling the flow of goods in and out...

I cross the border, and instead of catching the bus into town, I decide to climb straight of the steep hill to explore a neighbourhood right by the border... The Principe neighbourhood looks like a real slum compared to the rest of the city, with piles of trash strewn along the slopes—making Fnideq next door look like Bel Air in comparision... I find an odd government housing project with big metal apartment complexes—almost like giant mobile homes...

But soon I’m in the heart of Principe and the typical Spanish shops a bit of charm and backed up traffic trying to sqeeze through its tortured one lane streets.

It is interesting to note that I see a half of dozen mosques in Principe—but not a single church!

School is just letting out, and from the looks of it, scarf wearing Arabs and Spanish girls seem to be mingling just fine—but who knows how things really are below the surface...

Of course I have to check out the castle—although not nearly as amazing as the Melilla castle, it is beautiful and take a cool clip there...

Up through Ceuta’s beautiful shopping district—I decide just to keep on going and going... Soon I find myself on the road that loops around the hill at the very tip of the Ceuta peninsula, gazing down and stunning turquoise water and jagged cliffs...

I pass a rather odd monument—a giant monument dedicated to Franco on the side of the hill.  I would’ve thought that monuments to Spain’s old dictator would’ve been torn down long ago.

  It looks a bit damaged, but it is still standing.
Nothing remarkable at the tip of the peninsula, just one of the cubby-hole high rise cemeteries... I continue on the road looping around the hill. 

Come across what looks like a “Spanish Redneck” home—a scruffy house on the side of the cliff with a couple of rusted car shells strewn about...

At the top of the hill there’s what looks like a castle—but it’s also a military base—so I don’t figure there’s much sightseeing to do, so I don’t bother to climb up there...

Finally I make it back to down town Ceuta and after a stroll along the beach, and stopping by to say hi to an old Spanish friend, I take the long hike back to the border.

Ceuta, despite its controversy and it’s notoriety as a contraband and drug transit point, is a beautiful, charming little piece of land... And I’ve managed to visit it without spending a dime. 
Maybe I’ll come back sometime, when I feel I need to take a little break from Morocco...


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Ceuta
photo by: Riz7